I remember being eight years old, jostling with little Jayne as we competed for Mama’s attention.
“Girls, it’s bedtime please,” she said, her voice warm.
“But, Mama–” Jayne whined.
“Why don’t I tell you the story of the ringing, hmm?” Mama said as the firelight danced in her green eyes.
The ringing! Jayne and I raced to the small bed we shared and hopped under the blankets. We’d heard this story a hundred times before, but we never tired of hearing mother retell it.
Mama followed, her bare feet made a soft familiar sound on the wooden floor. She sank down onto the foot of our bed and lent forward, tucking us tightly under our thick grey covers.
“Long ago, the faerie Queen–”
“Naidia!” Jayne squeaked.
“Yes, Queen Naidia,” Mama whispered. “She searched far and wide for the perfect gift for King Kalan and Queen Ashland of our realm.”
“Why did she want to get them a present, Mama?” I asked, even though I knew the answer.
Mama winked at me. “Well!” she answered, her voice rising with excitement. “The King and Queen had been trying for many years to conceive a child, and finally their prayers had been answered.”
I watched my mother carefully. The way the light played across her face, how her eyes crinkled at the edges, everything about her made a warm feeling grow in my heart.
“Queen Ashland was only weeks away from giving birth to the little prince– visitors from all over the world had begun to arrive bearing offerings for High Vailour’s new royal.” Mama paused for a moment, no doubt remembering that exciting time, ten years ago. “Queen Naidia knew how special this prince was going to be, and knew how important the human’s friendship was to her.” Mama arched her eyebrow, grinning. “Clothing, incense, animals, rare foods… none of the traditional gifts seemed good enough to Queen Naidia. Gathering her powers and her special reserve of magic dust, she resolved to make a gift for the young prince the likes of which the world had never seen.”
I stole a glance at my little sister, her bright blue eyes were wide and her little mouth hung open in awe.
This is Jayne’s favourite part. I smiled, and snuggled in a little closer to her.
“Taking a single branch from an ancient moonstone tree, Queen Naidia set to work. Each night at the stroke of midnight, she dipped the branch in the river syrine, pouring her magic into the metal-like wood. On the seventh night when she withdrew the branch from the shimmering waters, she bent it into a silver ring.” Mama lent back, folding her hands. Her eyes looked far away. “It was said that at the moment the ring was complete, every citizen in the realm of the fae and the realm of the humans, felt the pang of true love pass through them.”
“Did you feel it, Mama?” I asked.
“I always feel the pangs of true love, buttercup.” Mama winked at me. “Ever since I married your father.”
Jayne giggled, a sound like sunshine.
“On the eight day, Prince Kalan Kane Windsong the Third was born–” Mama smiled– “and Queen Naidia made her way to High Vailour to present her gift. When she arrived, the entire human court fell silent, everyone wanted to see what the Queen of the faeries had brought the crown prince.”
I tried to imagine the scene in my mind. A richly decorated throne room, blue and gold tapestries hung floor to ceiling annoucning the royal birth. Dukes, duchesses, warrior queens from far-away Arcadia, people of every shape and size from all corners of the human realm filling the room so densely it could have burst.
“Queen Naidia approached the throne where King and Queen Windsong sat with their son. In her outstretched hand she presented the simple, silver ring.”
“The moonstone ring!” Jayne cooed.
“Yes, Jayne, the moonstone ring. As Queen Naidia handed it to Queen Ashland, she declared the ring’s powers for all to hear. Naidia had been able to glimpse the future, and knew that the prince was fated to face many hardships after he had come of age. If he, and the kingdom where to survive, the prince would need to marry the right woman.” Mama smiled at me lovingly. “Naidia explained that the ring would find that woman, revealing her after being placed on her finger. The King and Queen, and all of the human court rejoiced! And so a date was set for the ringing.”
“And when is it, Mama?” I asked.
“Still not for many years, buttercup. You’ll be all grown up by then.”
I frowned. “Does that mean I’ll have to try on the ring?”
Mama sighed and brushed my hair away from my eyes.
I looked to my sister, but she was already fast asleep.
“Good night my beautifuls.” Mama kissed us each on the forehead. “Sleep well, and dream of all the adventures you’re sure to have.”